CWG 2018

CWG 2018 Badminton: Aggressive Saina Nehwal outsmarts PV Sindhu to grab an emotional gold medal

Nehwal won 21-18, 23-21 in 58 minutes to win her second women’s singles crown.

Saina Nehwal once again proved that she has the killer instinct required to win the big matches as she beat PV Sindhu to clinch her second Commonwealth Games women’s singles gold, eight years after she bagged her first in New Delhi.

The 28-year-old trailed throughout the second game before she saved a game point to beat Sindhu 21-18, 23-21 in 58 minutes to register her third straight win over the world number 3 in the last six months.

(Read more: Follow all the updates on an action-packed day ten for India here.)

Their first face-off since Nehwal returned from a career-threatening knee injury in 2016, came at the Senior National final and the Commonwealth Games summit clash followed a similar pattern with the 28-year-old once again pulling off a heist against her much younger opponent with a perfect strategy.

Over the years, most players have adopted a game plan of engaging Sindhu in long rallies and hoping to break her down with the waiting game. But Nehwal, known for her retrieving game, has never followed that strategy against her compatriot and prefers to go on an all-out attack mode. She came in with a game plan that required her to not allow Sindhu to control the proceedings and perfectly executed that plan.

On Sunday, she began with a flourish, went for the big smashes each time the opportunity presented itself and raced to a 11-6 lead. On the other hand, Sindhu was struggling to control the pace of the rallies as her opponent either kept the shuttle deep or on the downward trajectory and did it with unerring consistency.

It was only towards the end of the first game with Nehwal having six game points in her bag that Sindhu managed to find a chink in her opponent’s armour and saved four game points to close the gap.

The momentum looked like it was shifting towards Sindhu following that run of play and the 22-year-old opened up a 6-9 lead early in the second game as she began reading Nehwal a little better. Saina, was also perhaps guilty of going for the lines to try and finish the rallies quickly when under pressure. A high-risk strategy at the best of times.

Though Nehwal ended up making a couple of unforced errors in the bargain, the smile on her face even after those mistakes was a clear indicator that the former world number had the measure of her opponent in terms of match strategy.

She ensured that at no point did Sindhu race to a big lead and the tide turned once again when Nehwal won the 64-shot rally, the longest of the match, to make it 18-19.

The 28-year-old looked too tired to continue midway through the rally but kept the shuttle in play with quality strokes and finally caught Sindhu flat-footed in the middle of the court with a backhand flick.

Sindhu did earn a game point by finishing another long rally with a smash winner. But Nehwal wasn’t willing to let the match go in the decider as she grabbed her second match point with a flurry of smashes and exulted in relief and happiness when Sindhu hit a forehand push wide.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

What are racers made of?

Grit, strength and oodles of fearlessness.

Sportspersons are known for their superhuman discipline, single-minded determination and the will to overcome all obstacles. Biographies, films and documentaries have brought to the fore the behind-the-scenes reality of the sporting life. Being up at the crack of dawn, training without distraction, facing injuries with a brave face and recovering to fight for victory are scenes commonly associated with sportspersons.

Racers are no different. Behind their daredevilry lies the same history of dedication and discipline. Cornering on a sports bike or revving up sand dunes requires the utmost physical endurance, and racers invest heavily in it. It helps stave off fatigue and maintain alertness and reaction time. It also helps them get the most out of their racecraft - the entirety of a racer’s skill set, to which years of training are dedicated.

Racecraft begins with something as ‘simple’ as sitting on a racing bike; the correct stance is the key to control and manoeuvre the bike. Riding on a track – tarmac or dirt is a great deal different from riding on the streets. A momentary lapse of concentration can throw the rider into a career ending crash.

Physical skill and endurance apart, racers approach a race with the same analytical rigour as a student appearing in an exam. They conduct an extensive study of not just the track, but also everything around it - trees, marshal posts, tyre marks etc. It’s these reference points that help the racer make braking or turning decisions in the frenzy of a high-stakes competition.

The inevitability of a crash is a reality every racer lives with, and seeks to internalise this during their training. In the immediate aftermath of the crash, racers are trained to keep their eyes open to help the brain make crucial decisions to avoid collision with other racers or objects on the track. Racers that meet with accidents can be seen sliding across the track with their heads held up, in a bid to minimise injuries to the head.

But racecraft is, of course, only half the story. Racing as a profession continues to confound many, and racers have been traditionally misunderstood. Why would anyone want to pour their blood, sweat and tears into something so risky? Where do racers get the fearlessness to do laps at mind boggling speed or hurtle down a hill unassisted? What about the impact of high speeds on the body day after day, or the monotony of it all? Most importantly, why do racers race? The video below explores the question.

Play


The video features racing champions from the stable of TVS Racing, the racing arm of TVS Motor Company, which recently completed 35 years of competitive racing in India. TVS Racing has competed in international rallies and races across some of the toughest terrains - Dakar, Desert Storm, India Baja, Merzouga Rally - and in innumerable national championships. Its design and engineering inputs over the years have also influenced TVS Motors’ fleet in India. You can read more about TVS Racing here.

This article has been produced by Scroll Brand Studio on behalf of TVS Racing and not by the Scroll editorial team.